And then, just at that moment, a man emerged from the double doors of the towering Stop & Shop headquarters, behind the representatives standing watch, and approached the group. “I'm a systems analyst from floor six—and I support you.” His expression was determined, unflappable. “May I escort you inside for a conversation on floor ten with executives?”Despite the system analyst's courage, negotiators from the Florida-based farm labor group were unable to proceed further.
Yet, it seems likely that the setback will be only temporary. On a visit to CIW offices in Immokalee this week, my family (including my two children, wife, and parents) enjoyed speaking with labor organizers about their successes since the time of my previous visit in 2009. The biggest victory has been a new relationship with tomato growers, who previously had refused to participate in the CIW's penny-a-pound bonus program, in which leading branded supermarkets and restaurant chains agree to pay workers a better piece rate for tomato harvest.
The CIW's "ask" from branded companies seems profoundly reasonable. Here in New England, I suspect Stop and Shop will give way in the next several months, as have Taco Bell, McDonald's, Burger King, and the tomato growers themselves in previous campaigns. As a regular Stop and Shop customer, let me mention here that customers like me are following this issue closely, and a sensible negotiating position would generate a pile of customer goodwill and loyalty. If Stop and Shop negotiates, I will of course give the news effusive coverage in this space.